Sinn Féin’s Presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada has today said that the Troubles were a “natural progression” of the War of Independence.
Ni Riada, from North West Cork, is the party’s current MEP for Ireland South and was ratified by the party to contest the Presidency earlier today.
Her candidacy was revealed at a carefully-managed rally in Dublin where no media questions were allowed.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Ms Ní Riada said that while civilian death in the Troubles were absolutely wrong, the struggle was a consequence of the earlier conflicts with Britain.
“I am from a republican area in north west Cork, which has had its own history of violent struggles during the War of Independence and I see what happened in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, even though I was a teenager at the time, as a natural progression on to that,” she said.
“But we now have a peace process, we must concentrate on making sure that is maintained and not just a stagnant peace process. If we keep going backwards how can we go forward? It was not justified when civilians are involved, violence on any level is wrong,” she added.
Ms Ní Riada said the apology given by her party leader Mary Lou McDonald to former Labour Senator Mairia Cahill, will be inadequate given what she has suffered.
“Firstly, I can’t even begin to imagine what Mairia Cahill went through. I don’t think anybody’s apology will go far enough to undo what was done to her. I just hope she is getting the support she needs. Healing has to take place, But I don’t think an apology will ever be adequate enough to undo what was done to her,” she said.
“There are now robust procedures in place within the party to protect against that. It is unfortunate in Mairia Cahill’s case, I send her my best wishes,” she added.
Ms Ní Riada, who courted controversy previously by expressing concerns about the HPV vaccine now says she is a full supporter of it. She described taking it as a “no brainer”.
“Let me very clear, I absolutely think the HPV vaccine is necessary. It is wonderful that science has evolved to save girls from getting cancer, particularly cervical cancer. They are now talking about giving to boys, I would encourage anyone to do that. I have daughters myself,” she said.
Asked has she encouraged them to take it, she said: “I would of course, I would of course. As a parent you are always going to be concerned with what you are putting into your child, that is natural for any parent. But I will be reiterating, I have no issue with HPV or any vaccine if it is going to save lives. It is a no-brainer.”
Ms Ní Riada, aged 51, who is believed to be socially conservative said she would have no hesitation signing the pending abortion legislation into law, if passed by the Oireachtas.
“I am not pigeonholed but in answer to your question, the office of the President has a duty to uphold the constitution and of course there is no question about it. I would sign into law anything the government proposes as is the duty of the role. Party politics does not come into it,” she said.
“Absolutely none whatsoever, that is the duty of the president.”
She also said President Michael D Higgins has done an “excellent” job for our country but it is time to give young people an opportunity to lead.